Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (2023)

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (1)
It has never been easier to breakthrough into creating your animations. Whether these be games, humorous little animations like those of populating the internet over the past 20 years, or just playing around with the software and its capabilities, 3D development is right at your fingertips.

If you are like me, you are always on the lookout for some great deals. I’m talking about Steam sales, GOG.com sales, and Xbox deals.

On that note, we live in great times: you can download free software that can help stoke creativity and create the 3D games of your dreams. Of course, there might be a learning curve if you’re a novice in game development, but the potential is there. Let’s get down to it.

We have already gone through and examined some of the best 2D software out there that doesn’t cost you a dime, but what about 3D?

Here I will examine some of the best free 3D animation software for 2019 and beyond. I included some programs that emphasize 3D modeling as well since they both go hand in hand.

Table of Contents:

Blender

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (2)
For over 20 years, Blender has been a trusted source of 3D software animation. Not only that, but the $0 price tag doesn’t hurt!

This is an optimal piece of software for creating 3D games. It allows the user to draw different assets from many different existing 3D engines, allowing versatility and variety to your game developing experience.

Blender has some impressive features:

  • Simulation
  • Modeling
  • Customizable UI
  • High-End Production Path Tracer
  • GPU Rendering
  • Game CreationAnimation Toolset
  • Fast Rigging

The list goes on, but when asked: “What is the best free 3D animation software?” Blender is the best.

KeyShot

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (3)
What is the easiest 3D animation software to use? KeyShot. You’ll see why.

KeyShot is a bit simpler than Blender but still has the potential to create some seriously impressive 3D graphics and animations for no charge.

With impressive texture mapping, HDRI lighting control, KeyShot blends more complicated actions with the ease for beginner animators and developers. This is a key balance that allows for people on a budget who just want to get an easier intro to the animation world to experience what it has to offer.

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Both a great starting point or a stepping stone to more complicated projects, KeyShot rules.

SketchUp

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (4)
This piece of software is pretty cool.

Rather than focus on complicated game development that programs like Blender, SketchUp is the ideal piece of software for those who are into design. I remember taking an architectural design class in 10th grade, and this would fit right in. Maybe it would have made the class a little less tortuous, (Sorry, Mr. Donohue!).

This program comes with tons of prefab models and more, allowing you to stoke creativity without digging up more 3D assets.

However, this program could be a little more difficult for newer users to use compared to the user-interface included in KeyShot. If you are looking to bring a blueprint to life, you cannot go wrong with SketchUp.

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (5)

K-3D

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (6)
K-3D is another great piece of free software.

A solid development tool for 3D developers, K-3D has a great undo and redo function, allowing you to have some leeway when it comes to making mistakes and making sure your work is the best it can be.

People love K-3D, as it is simple yet complex. You can get a lot of great work done compared to what you pour into it.

PowToon

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (7)
What is the best free 3D animation software for beginners? PowToon, no doubt.

I know this was mentioned in our 2D list, but the 3D capabilities are also so great that they can’t be ignored.

Focusing more on platforms like social media, PowToon is a great program for users that have their fingers on the pulse on trends in social media. With aspects and projects that can easily be uploaded to several social media sites and Vimeo, PowToon evokes imagery of a bygone era of the Internet: amusing animation, (think JibJab).

PowToon allows users to make presentations and short animations, (around 3 minutes).

This program is great for beginners, as projects usually are small yet colorful and informative animations. The learning curve is super small, ensuring that even the most computer-illiterate user can start making great toons or presentations in no time.

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Tinkercad

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (8)
Like me, you may be a newcomer in terms of coming to the world of 3D animation. With free 3D animation software like Tinkercad, creating a presence in the 3D world has never been more accessible.

This program, through AutoDesk, provides the user with 3D tools and architecture for easy and light 3D animation. I think this is a great piece of animation software if you have no familiarity with animation. It is a great introduction and allows the animator to experiment on a bunch of cool little things.

Daz Studio

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (9)
If there is one aspect of free software, it is a slew of free assets and models included with the initial package. Much like the Unity asset marketplace, Daz Studio has the potential for a huge about of models that can be accessed.

For those of you out there looking to create small animations and short films, Das Studio is a great alternative to the more advanced 3D animation software. It allows you to create your projects without the tweaking of every little thing when it comes to rendering and mapping assets.

If you are a more casual animator, Daz Studio is a solid option.

AutoDesk

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Attention students and nonprofessionals! AutoDesk is completely free if you are not planning to commercially release your project. This could be a double-edged sword for some of you, but if you are more casual, this could be a great program for you.

It has one of the best set of features that you won’t find in other free 3D animation programs, only rivaled programs used by professionals.

Some caveats to this great package are that it might require a faster, more powerful system to execute some features, and the learning curve could prove to be a little steep for some.

This aside, this is a prime piece of software you can utilize completely free of charge if you’re a student or community member.

Mandelbulb 3D

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What a name!

From the website, you can download 3D examples to tinker around with. This is super helpful for visual learners like me who need to see something in action to better understand it.

Not only can you download examples, but you can create a bunch of impressive fractal 3D models. The UI can prove to be a little much and could probably do with some cleaning up, but once you get it down, you will be creating some cool 3D scenes in no time.

Pixologic Sculptris

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This is a great piece of 3D animation software for beginners.

It is tailor-made for those who perhaps aren’t the most familiar with 3D modeling and sculpting. Unfortunately, the program isn’t exactly supported any longer, although you can still download it for free. It just means that the developers won’t be updating it, etc. This isn’t an excuse NOT to download though, because it is a great little stepping stone for beginners.

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3D Crafter

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (13)
Although initially more intimidating than other programs, 3D Crafter proves to be a lot easier than originally shown. It gets that reputation from being used by professionals. It turns out that this is a winning endorsement for the program.

Again, it can serve architectural designs as well as 3D modeling, allowing you to create nearly anything you want by using a balanced interface and ‘drag and drop’ models to help you home in on specific aspects of your design.

Don’t be afraid to download some more advanced-seeming software like this!

OpenSCAD

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (14)
A free program designed to create 3D CAD models, OpenSCAD is a great opportunity to work out the kinks in your 3D modeling design.

This is a great option to bone up on 3D skills before you jump into more complicated projects and creations. It allows the user to script different 3D models and what they can do within the program.

Some of the animations possible through the use of the program are pretty impressive; namely, some complicated geometric shapes given life through animation.

LeoCAD

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (15)
This one is truly unique. Anyone familiar with LEGO, (who isn’t?!), will immediately catch onto the basics of this 3D animation and modeling program.

You create your models using LEGO bricks, allowing a new, interesting, and creative method of making 3D assets and projects. It is open-source and includes literally tens of thousands of 3D assets to get your 3D animation project off of the ground. More importantly, all of these things are free!

Give yourself an excuse to play with LEGOs again.

Houdini Apprentice

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (16)
This is a free version of Houdini FX that allows you to create many 3D animations and renderings. It is marketed towards creative people of all levels of society: professionals, hobbyists, and students to name a few.

Houdini FX has been used in some seriously impressive projects like Blade Runner 2049 and the great game, The Long Dark.

The versatility available with this program is breathtaking, and you have nothing to lose by downloading the free version.

VUE Pioneer


If you are all about terrain, this is the animation program for you. Think of Mass Effect’s numerous explorable planets and how cool that was to play.

Now you can create environments ten times better than the moon of a fictitious world. It allows you to manipulate some great terrain models with excruciating detail, allowing you to become a certified terrain builder, for free.

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CelAction2D


This is a program that is highly valued among many animators. it balances out that beautiful combination of an easy learning curve mixed with a powerful program. You can easily use CelAction2D to create small, niche projects, or giant creative powerhouse ideas. the high level of customization, along with it being available for many platforms makes it a winner.

Wings 3D


Another great 3D modeler, Wings 3D allows you to get your hands dirty by allowing the user to tweak 3D geometry and shapes, allowing you to develop your style and image, which will help you later on when you use a program like Blender.

Again, this is an open-source program, so hit that download button and get tweaking.

Rocket 3F

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (17)
Rocket 3F, (standing for Fast, Fun and Friendly), is a free to use 3D polygon modeler.

This program is primarily aimed at concept artists and different shades of designers. They emphasize workflow and an easy to use user interface, something that is crucial when using 3D software.

You can accomplish a ton of actions by the use of only the mouse. They tout that you don’t need to have multiple windows, tabs, and more open to accomplish simple tasks.

Clara.io


This is a cloud-based 3D animation and modeling program.

By using Clara.io, “you can make complex 3D models, create beautiful photorealistic renderings, and share them without installing any software programs.” This program has a staggering amount of tools to choose from to do even the most basic of animating actions.

With a great interface, multiplatform support, and huge customization options, you can’t go wrong with Clara.io.

Boats Animator

Top 20 3D Animation Software (Updated Reviews) (18)
For those that are fans of stop motion animation, this one’s for you!

It has a great interface and can easily help you make your stop motion animations more fluid, and with ease of use. It allows you to see your very last image to integrate your animation better, without needless backtracking that eats up valuable time.

Animations come to life instantly without the need for lengthy processing times that have you waiting by your computer for what seems like ages.

There you go the top 20 free 3D animation software for 2022 and beyond.

This list is a comprehensive look at what will work best for you as an animator and 3D designer. These programs are aimed at beginner, intermediate, and expert users, and all free to download.

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Do you know what this means? It means you can’t put off your 3D animating ambitions any longer!

FAQs

Which is the No 1 animation software? ›

The best animation software available now
  • Moho Pro. The best animation software for Mac and a powerful rigging tool. ...
  • CelAction2D. The best professional animation software for Windows. ...
  • Procreate. The best animation software for iPad. ...
  • Autodesk Maya. ...
  • Cartoon Animator 4. ...
  • Adobe Character Animator. ...
  • Clip Studio Paint. ...
  • Adobe Animate.
13 Sept 2022

What is the easiest 3D animation software to learn? ›

Easy animation: Cartoon Animator 4 is one of the most beginner-friendly 3D animation software programs. All the features you need to create animated characters, objects, and scenes are laid out simply so you can focus on creating amazing visuals and telling a story.

What is the best 3D animation software 2022? ›

Our Top 6 Picks For Best 3D Animation Software (2022 Updated)
  • Cinema 4D.
  • K-3D.
  • Houdini.
  • Blender.
  • Cascadeur.
  • Autodesk's Maya.
30 Sept 2022

What software does Disney use for 3D animation? ›

One of the most popular 3D animation software suites in the market, Autodesk Maya, has been used in countless Disney films to create low-resolution models, later developed into the famous Disney characters we love.

What software does Pixar use? ›

Presto is the proprietary software developed and used in-house by Pixar Animation Studios in the animation of its features and short films.

Who is the best 3D animator? ›

Best 3D animators and CGI artists
  • Unter freiem Himmel 3D Animator in Graz, Österreich. ...
  • Achilles Entertainment 3D Animator in Whitley City, KY, USA. ...
  • Charles Wood 3D Animator in Brooklyn, NY, USA. ...
  • Domino Production 3D Animator in Ереван, Армения ...
  • ID73 3D Animator in Canada.

What software do YouTube animators use? ›

Best Software For YouTube To Make Animated Video
  • Blender.
  • Moovly.
  • Renderforest.
  • Powtoon.
  • OpenToonz.
  • Vyond.
  • Animaker.
  • Toon Boom.
24 Nov 2020

Which is the best free animation software? ›

13 Best Free Animation Software Programs To Make Marketing Videos in 2022
  • Animaker.
  • Blender.
  • K-3D.
  • OpenToonz.
  • Pencil2D Animation.
  • Plastic Animation Paper.
  • Powtoon.
  • Stykz.
23 Jun 2022

Which 3D program should I learn? ›

“Start with a software that is easily accessible for you and feels comfortable. In my opinion, Blender is probably the best all around to start with since it's free and offers many different functions that can help you find what you like about 3D (modeling, or lighting, or simulations, etc.).

What is the easiest free 3D animation software to use? ›

Best Free 3D Animation Software for Beginners
  • Doodle Maker.
  • BLENDER.
  • WINGS 3D.
  • K3-D.
  • SOURCE FILMMAKER.
  • TOONTASTIC 3D.
  • KEYSHOT.
  • DAZ 3D.

Is Cinema 4D easier than Blender? ›

Blender is definitely harder to learn than Cinema 4D.

If you are a more technically minded person, you may find yourself having a lot of fun with the node system and playing around with scripting in Blender. Cinema 4D is very well known for being pretty easy for beginners to pick up.

Is Maya better than Blender? ›

If you're just starting your adventure with 3D modeling, Blender might be a better option to start. However, you should keep in mind the purpose of why are you interested in 3D software. If you want a professional career in the video game industry, Maya will be a better investment.

What is the best 3D animation software for low end PC? ›

Blender: the most powerful application for 3D animation. Clara.io: the ultimate web-based application to create animations. Daz3D: a program for beginners in animation. Houdini Apprentice: a free auto-rigging 3D animation program.

Which Adobe is best for animation? ›

Use Adobe Animate to create vector animations. Create composites, motion graphics, and visual effects with Adobe After Effects. And move seamlessly between them and other Adobe apps, including Photoshop and Illustrator. Whether you're using Windows or macOS, the right drawing tools and animation software awaits.

Is Blender good for animation? ›

Whether it's simple keyframing or complex walk-cycles, Blender allows artists to turn their still characters into impressive animations. Blender's animation feature set offers: Character animation pose editor. Non Linear Animation (NLA) for independent movements.

What 3D software does Pixar use? ›

Pixar RenderMan (formerly PhotoRealistic RenderMan) is proprietary photorealistic 3D rendering software produced by Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar uses RenderMan to render their in-house 3D animated movie productions and it is also available as a commercial product licensed to third parties.

What are the 5 types of animation? ›

5 Forms of Animation
  • Traditional Animation.
  • 2D Animation.
  • 3D Animation.
  • Motion Graphics.
  • Stop Motion.

What 3D software does Sony animation use? ›

Houdini is an industry-leading software that is popular for 3D animation, visual effects and game development. It is widely used by large VFX companies, including Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks and Sony Pictures, to create 3D imagery.

What is trending in animation? ›

1. 3D Forever: Cute Cartoon 3D Animations. Always evolving, 3D aims to add realism to the unrealistic. The more complex it gets, the more it aims for simplicity in shapes and colors. In 2022 the 3D trend is focused on cute round shapes with vivid contrasting colors, making them look like clay figures come to life.

Does Pixar use Maya? ›

However, Pixar uses a mix of in-house and third-party softwares to create their films, including AutoDesk's Maya and Renderman.

What software does Mappa use? ›

mappa software is written in Python and can be run either via a GUI or command-line interface.

What studios use Maya? ›

Companies Currently Using Autodesk Maya
Company NameWebsitePhone
The Walt Disney Studioswaltdisneystudios.com(818) 560-1000
Blizzard Entertainmentblizzard.com(949) 242-8393
Activisionactivision.com(310) 255-2000
Integration Innovation Inc.i3-corps.com(256) 513-5179
2 more rows

What software does Sony Pictures animation use? ›

OpenColorIO is now open source

Sony Pictures Imageworks has released its proprietary color management tool, OpenColorIO, to the open source community, the same software used to create the Oscar-winning animated movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

What is the best 3D animation software for free? ›

Best Free 3D Animation Software for Beginners
  • WINGS 3D.
  • K3-D.
  • SOURCE FILMMAKER.
  • TOONTASTIC 3D.
  • KEYSHOT.
  • DAZ 3D.
  • CLARA.IO.
  • AUTODESK.

Is Maya better than Blender? ›

If you're just starting your adventure with 3D modeling, Blender might be a better option to start. However, you should keep in mind the purpose of why are you interested in 3D software. If you want a professional career in the video game industry, Maya will be a better investment.

Is Adobe animate 2D or 3D? ›

Animate allows you to create 3D effects by moving and rotating movie clips in 3D space on the Stage.

Who is the best 3D animator? ›

Best 3D animators and CGI artists
  • Unter freiem Himmel 3D Animator in Graz, Österreich. ...
  • Achilles Entertainment 3D Animator in Whitley City, KY, USA. ...
  • Charles Wood 3D Animator in Brooklyn, NY, USA. ...
  • Domino Production 3D Animator in Ереван, Армения ...
  • ID73 3D Animator in Canada.

What software does Disney use for 3D animation? ›

One of the most popular 3D animation software suites in the market, Autodesk Maya, has been used in countless Disney films to create low-resolution models, later developed into the famous Disney characters we love.

What software does Pixar use? ›

Presto is the proprietary software developed and used in-house by Pixar Animation Studios in the animation of its features and short films.

How do you animate a picture? ›

How to add animated effects to pictures?
  1. Download YouCam Perfect.
  2. Open the app and go to Photo Edit.
  3. Select the Animation tool and scroll to find the animation effect you want.
  4. Simply select it and watch your photo come to life!
25 Sept 2022

Does 3D animation require drawing? ›

The path to becoming a 3D animator can be vastly different from its 2D counterpart. In fact, you don't even need to know how to draw to create 3D animation. The majority of your work will consist of using a computer to manipulate and control characters in the same way you would move a puppet.

How long does it take to learn 3D animation? ›

3D animation can take anywhere from a couple of months to years to learn. There are a lot of elements you must learn to succeed in 3D animation. You need to understand movements, actions, and expressions. If your goal is to create 3D characters, then you must know how to essentially recreate people in digital form.

Is Blender used in movies? ›

Various short films have been made with Blender. Read on for the top 10 Blender movies worth watching, all of which are free! As many 3D designers and artists know, Blender is where it's at when it comes to some of the most powerful 3D creation suites out there.

Is Blender worth learning 2022? ›

Definitely. I am by no means professional but blender is about as good as any other high end modelling software, but it is also free and open source. The only problem is that at the start it is very intimidating to learn but once you get started it is fine.

Is Maya still used? ›

Maya and 3ds Max are used by creative studios around the world for animation, modeling, visual effects, and rendering.

What Adobe is best for animation? ›

Use Adobe Animate to create vector animations. Create composites, motion graphics, and visual effects with Adobe After Effects. And move seamlessly between them and other Adobe apps, including Photoshop and Illustrator. Whether you're using Windows or macOS, the right drawing tools and animation software awaits.

Is 3D animation easy? ›

3D animation is not hard to learn. It is just a skill that you have to practice and get better at. To become a good 3D animator, you need to learn the basics of the software, understand the principles of 3D animation, and practice your skills by doing projects.

What app is used for 3D animation? ›

1. Maya For 3D Animation. Maya is developed by Autodesk, Inc and can be used to produce interactive 3D applications such as visual effects, animated films, video games, and more.

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